'Today I'm gonna kill the bear!' shrilled Tuppence.
'Say it again,' yelled Val Nark.
'TODAY I'M GONNA KILL THE BEAR!' he shrieked.
'And again,' commanded Val, who was sitting cross-legged on a pile of rag rugs she'd brought back from a wildlife slash hiking holiday in Kerala.
'TODAY I'M GONNA KILL THE BEAR!!!'
'Excellent work Tuppence. Now - at home, unpaid, in your own time mind, because this is training - '
'Is it optional, then?' asked Tuppence.
'No, no, it's mandatory.'
'Then surely - '
'No. Stop interrupting or you'll lose your job. As I was saying - at home, in your own time, file the end of that plunger into a sharp point. Weaponise it. Hone it the way you've been honing your toilet cleaning skills. You're sending yourself a vital message, remember, and it could propel you on to a whole different level. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. You could even win modern apprentice of the month, Tuppence, as well as being allowed to clean out the Portaloos at the building site all on your own.'
'Wot?' murmured Tuppence.
'Yes!' Val continued blithely, 'Imagine that! Yes, as well as our thriving (-ish) yurt business, Dave and I now have the cleaning contract for the building site Portaloos. This will be announced in our newsletter but I'm telling you first because you're the one who'll be doing the cleaning. We'll need a picture of you, of course, a lovely smiley one of you outside the Portaloos clutching your plunger. You'll be doing one hour extra a week, Fridays, hosing them down. Dave and I managed to undercut everybody else to win the contract, because we have YOU working for us for £3.50 an hour. You'll have to find a hose yourself mind. And because this is over and above your contracted hours you won't get paid. But remember - '
Later - down in the tunnels. Tuppence is on his own, sitting on a barrel of Madeira, deep in thought, absently whittling at the end of his plunger with a pen-knife.
'If I got enough of these I could make a deadfall,' he murmured. 'Might come in handy one day...Weaponise, is it. Honed, is it. Finding a hose, is it. Val clearly doesn't know about my brace of pistols and my bandolier of ammunition, and my habit of writing my initials on walls with uncanny accuracy in a hail of bullets. Neither does she know about my past history of arch-criminal activity and my facility for devising nefarious plans*. I'm not going to be a modern apprentice toilet cleaner for £3.50 an hour, minus training time, for a moment longer. No! I thought I could stick it out till Christmas in order to glean more info. for my own evil purposes, but no, I can figure out other ways to do that. Enough's enough.'
Next time - Tuppence begins to enact his nefarious plans - and Val Nark rues the day she hired him.
*please see e-books and paperbacks for details